Dear college freshman self,
I know you have your heart in your throat as one of your high school friends drops you off at the dorm for your first semester. I know you are used to doing things on your own by now and that you have had to be in charge of yourself since you can remember. Neither of your parents have been able to help you figure out how to do college, even though your mother understands the importance of education; you. are. on. your. own. You are embarrassed by your plaid fabric suitcase with duct tape used to repair a rip across the front. I want you to know soon you will meet people who won’t judge you for your lack of money or material things. You are good at camouflage; you have been practicing it for years. You will meet instructors and professors who see your spark and who will encourage you to keep studying. You will learn and grow and make community with people who are kind. They will become your family for the next part of your journey into adulthood.
You will learn what it is to have to change directions(!) when chemistry proves too much for your current level of preparation. It will be hard, but you will figure it out. You will visit the student counseling center and take a series of career and aptitude tests, and you will learn about allied health fields of psychology and speech-language pathology. Your interest grows, and you are able to do observations at the University of Oregon Medical School, and you feel like you have found your niche. You will finish your undergrad degree in three years with a double major while working various jobs on campus to support yourself. You like the book store the best but will spend hours filing loan cards in the Financial Aid office. You will meet you’re a person who becomes your best friend, and you will decide to take on the next chapters of your lives together. You are so young, but you will be the recipient of so much grace.
You will travel to Alabama with your partner for graduate school, and you will experience real (!) southern culture. Attending Crimson Tide football games and learning to make biscuits for breakfast, you will make wonderful memories there. You will make a home in a bottom-floor apartment with a window to a wooded park. You will plant roses outside the window and hang ivory curtains. When the breeze blows through the window, the curtains will billow, and you will name this a visit from the ‘curtain angels.’ Three years later, you will head to California for your first job in a children’s hospital in Central California. You will be excited and confident because your education has prepared you.
You will be grateful every day of your life for how much education has changed your life and how it has given you the opportunity to help others realize their own educational goals. You understand how in the end, it is kindness that opens doors and offers encouragement. You will keep this in mind for always.
Your older self